Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Sun 30 Oct 05 14:04
I never know if things are going to be made as movies, not even the things that have been bought as movies, until the day someone starts shooting. No real thoughts on casting, no -- in my head, while I was writing it, Fat Charlie was played by Lenny Henry, and so were Spider and Mr Nancy, except when Mr Nancy was played by Cab Calloway.
some pipsqueak popinjay pop star (tinymonster) Sun 30 Oct 05 15:19
Cab Calloway -- perfect! Hello, Neil. It's great to see you here again! After a few pesky interruptions, I finally finished the book last night; great fun. I love that you thanked the readers of your blog in the acknowledgements. In my turn, I had noticed that having your blog around the last few years added a new dimension to the experience of reading this book. Not only could I remember your mentioning certain parts in your journal while you were researching or writing them, but I'd recognize certain experiences of yours in unexpected places. (I especially cracked up at the commentary on how comfortable coffins are, and at the "Daddy, are you famous?" part.) Since this post is already so long, I'll start with a short question: Did I catch a _The Producers_ joke at the end of the first séance?
some pipsqueak popinjay pop star (tinymonster) Sun 30 Oct 05 16:25
<21> -- If "far from gruntled" (a longtime favorite expression of mine) is an example of the kind of wordplay found in Wodehouse, then I definitely must seek this stuff out.
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 31 Oct 05 14:58
tinymonster -- yes, you did.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 31 Oct 05 18:33
Besides reading the old Anansi stories, was there anything else you read to get into the mood and tone of this book? What about music?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Mon 31 Oct 05 21:08
I think the music that ran somewhere in the back of this book was this -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000000G98/104-1586203-7829511 Other things, too, but it always came back to that. And I read the first PG Wodehouse Blandings Castle book in the bath, when I was starting.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Mon 31 Oct 05 22:57
Might be the first Wodehouse/jug band novel ever.
Melodious Thunk (sjs) Tue 1 Nov 05 07:58
except, perhaps, for those in which Bertie picks and strums his banjolele? Neil -- I'm fascinated by the idea that you toyed, in your ealiest incarnations of ANANSI BOYS, with the idea of Baltimore as a major local. In my mind, Baltimore is quirkily -- and lovingly -- made popular by the likes of John Waters (movies, broadway plays and essays) and Ann Tyler (novels). Perhaps, also, by Poe (?). How is it that Baltimore figures significantly for you?
mad mouse beyond sea-Hell (miss-mousey) Tue 1 Nov 05 17:17
Hey there - I'm all about penguins and fun and silliness, but I just thought of an oddly serious writing question (which is kind of funny, because I've never thought of myself as a writer... /shrug): Often when a writer has an idea for a project there are certain scenes that play out in his/her mind as being part of the story (I dunno - let's take for example the wrong funeral scene and the karaoke scene from Anansi Boys). I was just wondering what *you* do when you've got a point A and a point B and you need to connect them. What's your process? Do you just write and write and hope that you get from one scene to the other? Do you specifically plot ways to incorporate both scenes into the same story? Are you willing to abandon one of the scenes if the story seems to be going another direction? What's your process like when you find yourself in this situation?
It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Wed 2 Nov 05 05:47
And adding to the mousey-one's question: You often hear about how the hardest thing about writing is killing your babies-- ie, the beautiful moments that you wrote that somehow get edited out, don't fit, need to be trimmed, etc. Any babies from Anansi Boys that didn't make it into the novel?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 2 Nov 05 07:41
kafclown -- yes, but I put it into the back of the UK edition. (It was a scene in which Spider escapes from the Hell of Birds.) And there was a lovely analogy between Rosie's mum and a tyrannosaurus rex that my editor said was over-egging the pudding... Michelle -- well, that's how you write. You have some things that you know and then you navigate between them -- the answer to all of your "do you?"s is "Yes". And more.... And Baltimore -- dunno, I liked the sense of place, really. Had done ever since I first went there to do a signing.
Melanie Hamilton (hamilton) Wed 2 Nov 05 07:45
Or...(trailing along behind miss-mousey and kafclown) places that with suggestions of stories that had to wait 'til you were done?
Mary Roane (the-roane) Wed 2 Nov 05 10:23
Hi, Neil! Can I ask a MirrorMask question here? tinymonster's question about a Producer's reference (going back to reread that tonight) reminded me that I wanted to ask -- Did I catch a Pinky and the Brain joke in MM? (Helena:Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Valentine: Yeah! If we put little wheels on the bottoms of our shoes, we could roll everywhere) I laughed like an idiot both times I saw that. Jugbands........have I mentioned this week that I adore you? Not really a question, I guess, but I wanted to say that I *love* that there is no assumption of caucasian-ness of the characters in Anansi Boys. It was so refreshing. Question about the title--I thought that "nancy boys" was English slang for homosexuals. Did your UK publishers have any issues with the title? Hope the UK part of the tour goes well. Happy travels! Mary
Not actually tofu... more like tofu-to-be (madman) Wed 2 Nov 05 11:28
Neil- Probably my favorite image in Anansi Boys revolves around the lime. I've been trying to come up with a lime flavoured question for a while now, but I thought 'were you traumatized by a lime as a child' wouldn't really cut it. Now, however, I am seriously wondering if the lime had any connection to the "Smell My Lime" T-shirts.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Wed 2 Nov 05 14:26
Wait, are you saying that Americans are going to have to special-order the British edition, to get the cool scene?
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Wed 2 Nov 05 17:57
Mary: a) Yes. b) No. Madman: Possibly sitting at the back of my head. When it happened to me, it was a nutmeg, but somehow limes are funnier and more imposing, and few people know what a nutmeg looks like. Martha: Well, I suppose so, yes.
Not actually tofu... more like tofu-to-be (madman) Wed 2 Nov 05 23:13
(I would have found a nutmeg to be terribly funny, but then, I'm from Connecticut, which is the Nutmeg State for reasons that don't make a whole lot of sense.)
Resurrecting my inner pop star (tinymonster) Thu 3 Nov 05 19:25
<61> & <65-66> -- Yet another instance where you have to become a Collector when you just wanted to be a reader. Bah. <67> -- I spent most of my life in Connecticut, and I _still_ don't know what a nutmeg looks like. Now I'm kind of curious. Erm, OK, legitimate question in next post. (This not-being-able-to-post-from-work is _tough_....)
"Fat Charlie the archangel walks through the room" (or something like that) -- Paul Simon (tinymonster) Thu 3 Nov 05 19:45
Neil, as someone who instantly recognized herself when Fat Charlie started singing at his desk more or less "because he forgot not to," I loved the interaction between song and magic throughout the book -- literally, from the first sentence to the last. Of course I thought of Aslan singing Narnia into existence, but I realize the idea is much older than that. I also know that you're a pretty darn good songwriter yourself. (Oh, the questions I could ask you about that... but that's too far off-topic for here.) Would you talk a little about the importance of song in the book, and some of the things that influenced you to make it such an essential part of the story?
Daniel (dfowlkes) Fri 4 Nov 05 03:34
<scribbled by dfowlkes Tue 3 Jul 12 10:14>
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Fri 4 Nov 05 07:56
Dan -- if I think there's any chance I'll forget something, I write it down. I've found poems and outlines of short stories waiting for me I have no memory of, so it works. But I don't like outlining, so tend to keep it to a minimum. I'm not very good at not thinking about stuff I'm working on while I'm not working on it. Sometimes the best thing is long drives or walks to clear my head and focus on it... Christy -- I'm not sure. It seemed like something that the story was about in some way, and it kept going back there. I like the idea of songs great and songs small, all being part of it. And yes, it's Aslan and it's the Australian Songlines and it's karaoke and it's signing in the shower and it's getting up and singing in front of audiences...
from DANA VRAJITORU (tnf) Fri 4 Nov 05 10:18
Dana Vrajitoru writes: A remark based on Christy's question, the image of each of us being defined by a song is one of the things I liked the most in the text. I know that we're not supposed to believe in what you write, but this was a nice metaphor for something that I think is true. I'm one of those people who can't live without music and I was glad to see how much music was present in the book. Question: I've read many of the reviews of Anansi Boys in the media and I'm kind of dissapointed with them. There's two themes in these reviews, either doing a too detailed account of what the book is about (I'd prefer to find opinions instead), or an exercise of how many connections they can find to anything else anyone else ever did. Is there anything you look for when you read a review? And were you given any review guidelines when you were working as a journalist yourself? Ok, and this is the last thing, I loved the dragon scared of nothing joke, it was so silly and funny and smart, it just made my day!
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 4 Nov 05 10:37
Ooh, I love the idea of guidelines (from writers!) for reviewer! (Sitting in the wings in appreciative anticipation)
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 4 Nov 05 14:26
I'm loving this whole conversation, and I'm sorry to see that the two week scheduled run of this discussion has run its course. Our virtual spotlight has turned to a new author, but that doesn't mean conversation here has to stop. The topic will remain open indefinitely, so if Neil as able to stick around longer, that'd be great. Thanks for joining us, Neil! And thank you, Martha, for being such a great moderator.
Martha Soukup (soukup) Sat 5 Nov 05 00:08
It's not easy to be a great reviewer. I'm waiting to hear what Neil thinks makes one, too!
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